The Dissident
POLITICS AND CULTURE FROM NEW PERSPECTIVES
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DISSIDENT No. 3


POLITICS AND DEMOCRACY

Everything You Know About Politics

The Thoughtless Orthodoxy

Wal-Mart: The Big Friendly Giant


BOOKS + IDEAS + PROVOCATIONS

Islamic Democracy; An Exercise in Futility?

The Wisdom of Markets Isn't the Wisdom of Crowds

Hunters, Liars, and Philosopher Kings

Modern Economics as a Flight from Reality


ARCHIVE

DISSIDENT No. 1

DISSIDENT No. 2


editorial

The Thoughtless Orthodoxy


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The Dissident, eh? So from what, exactly, are we dissenting?

We are dissenting from assumptions, prevalent on college campuses, that breed unquestioned orthodoxies based on the “obviousness” of certain truths. These truths’ alleged obviousness obscures the fact that even what seems self-evident is, for all of that, still an idea. We protest that even in the academic world, ideas are assigned a meager place because so many things have come to seem so obvious.

How did this happen?

When confronted with opposing theories about the world, all people tend to resort to demonizing those with whom they disagree. After all, if our opponent is not some kind of villain, but is instead motivated by what he says he is motivated by — his ideas about the way the world is — then before disagreeing with him, we would have to take seriously the evidence for his ideas. And in the process, we might find out that our own evidence is faulty, and our own ideas mistaken. Given the emotional stake we acquire in “our” ideas, that’s the last thing we want to do.

It’s far more natural to discredit our opponents’ motives, as Walter Lippmann points out in our credo — or else, to deny that what’s in dispute are ideas at all. If, instead of coming up with ideas, what we (unlike our opponents) do is directly perceive self-evident facts, then instead of having possibly mistaken ideas about what the facts are, we would possess direct perceptions of “the obvious.” Those who disagreed with us, then, would be ignoring the obvious, which could only be the result of their stupidity. So either our opponents are too unintelligent to see the world as it really is, or they are too corrupt to admit what is plain for all to see.

What we propose in these pages is to present our ideas as ideas, and to do so civilly. We hope you will find these ideas innovative and provocative, since we also want virtually every article to take seriously some idea that is widely considered un-obvious by our professors and our peers.

The conventional wisdoms challenged in these articles constitute many of the political orthodoxies that now reign on campus. We believe that what makes these orthodoxies worse than most is the basis of their acceptance. People agree with these orthodoxies not because they have soberly evaluated the alternatives, but because they have never been presented with really challenging alternatives in the first place. The reigning orthodoxies are so taken for granted that they aren’t even visible as ideas that need to be evaluated at all.

The particular orthodoxies of the moment aside, it is the larger orthodoxy that there is no campus orthodoxy — no set of “obvious facts” that, viewed more skeptically, might seem like less than a set of self-evident truths — from which we dissent.

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